Despite many favorable conditions in 2013, M&A never took off in the middle market the way dealmakers hoped. While the last three months of the year generated a lot of activity, they didn't make up for the previous nine months. Deal volume for the year proved to be the second lowest in 10 years, above only post-collapse 2009.

The beginning of the year was particularly frustrating, coming on the heels of an active fourth quarter of 2012, which had been accelerated by tax considerations. January suffered by comparison, and M&A practitioners hoped the year would pick up. But instead, it was just the beginning of the slump. Ultimately, January turned out to be one of the better months. A slight uptick in closed deals occurred in July, giving rise to optimism that the second half of the year would improve. But August and September didn't continue the momentum. The year peaked in October, which saw 251 mid-market transactions close. And the last two months of the year were respectable, but far from spectacular.

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